Golf is now a global game. Even the Chinese are playing. There are courses everywhere, so the next logical step in the game’s progression would be to have it included in the ultimate athletic setting, the Olympic Games.
That there is even a question of whether or not golf belongs in the Olympics speaks more to a realization that there are still those who believe the game is the sole domain of the Brahmin, Patrician class and should never have been extended outside of the walls of the elite.
I, for one, don’t believe that golf needs the Olympics as a vehicle to promote more growth, but it can’t hurt. Perhaps some people who have never thought of taking up the game may see the Games in Rio and say, “Hey, that looks like fun. Let’s go try it.”
Doesn’t belong? Does ballroom dancing or synchronized swimming?
My problem with golf being an Olympic sport is not its inclusion, but how it affects the schedule and who is eligible.
First the schedule. Because of when the Games are slated, it has condensed the time between the third and fourth major tournaments of the year.
The British Open is being held at its normal time, in mid-July. It is not being adversely impacted, but the PGA, which is considered the poor cousin of the majors, is just two weeks later, instead of the traditional month.
This is also a Ryder Cup year and that, along with the Fed Ex Cup Playoffs means there could be some burnout factored in with so many high intensity events being squeezed into such a short period of time.
Of course none of that would matter if the traditional Olympic ideal – amateurism – had not be sacrificed at the alter of the golden calf.
The Olympic Games were designed for the amateur athlete, who competes for the love of sport and not because it comes with a big payday.
Now the professional golfers who compete in the Games will not be playing for money, just as they don’t in the Ryder or President Cup competitions, but their respective tours and their corporate sponsors will surely benefit economically and in the end so will the players.
The Games should be reserved for the various top amateur golfers from around the world. The top-ranked amateurs should be the ones representing their countries.
While the argument would be that nobody would watch the amateurs play on T.V., consider the time constraints that NBC will be under.
Do you really think the network is going to devote the time necessary to cover golf when it has so many other sports that will be aired?
People may love their golf, but they can get that any weekend. How many times do they get to see Michael Phelps swim or Usain Bolt run?
Golf will receive very limited and probably recorded coverage.
Golf in the Olympics? Why not, but don’t expect it to be a huge shot in the arm for the game.
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